How being part of a shopping mall could work in your business's favour

How being part of a shopping mall could work in your business's favour

Retail – Workplace June 2017

Space Race

Traditional “old school” shopping malls, arcades and smaller-scale shopping centres have been under the spotlight lately with reports claiming that globally, they’re falling out of favour with customers.

There’s also talk that suburban malls around New Zealand are losing appeal with business owners because big name retailers are vacating them. Historically, a mall was anchored by a department store or another major tenant and this drove foot traffic to neighbouring retailers within the complex.

But the rise in popularity of big box retail precincts in New Zealand has seen some of the more popular mall or shopping centre anchor tenants up sticks and move to locations where there’s a cluster of similar big-scale retail businesses.

This has left vacant space in malls or shopping centres and it’s sometimes been disheartening for the remaining tenants in these complexes. Often, these smaller businesses have leases with significant term still to run or there are other factors which tie them to these sites. They are not in a position to “abandon” their premises and relocate simply because a major retailer has upset the apple cart.

However, on the bright side, there’s also opportunity for existing mall businesses and those looking for new business premises (they’re often far more cost-effective than strip retail locations) – to meet the challenge head on.

Based on overseas observations, malls need to reinvent themselves and give the customer experiences other than shopping – change the traditional retail model up. And perhaps make them more social places where people can meet, share ideas and be creative.

If you are a business operating from a mall or traditional-style shopping centre, what can you do to make the most of your site and your lease? And if you are a business looking for affordable space, could this be your opportunity to make your mark?

Here’s some thoughts:

• Canvas your fellow retailers and see if you can get a proactive group together to brainstorm some ideas about how to revitalise the area

• Talk to the building/mall owner and challenge them to come up with some promotional drawcards

• Ask the owner how they’re actively marketing the spaces and perhaps they’d consider pop-ups to fill empty shops

• See if you could incorporate a farmers’ market into the mall somehow – it’s a proven crowd favourite

• Yoga sessions in the common areas could bring a new bunch of potential customers to your door

• Start a social media page – Facebook or Instagram – for the mall

• Encourage creative people to start classes or markets within the shopping centre to bring a wider variety of customers into the area

It’s no longer just about fashion stores or discount plastic fantastic outlets – variety is the spice of life.

It could be easy to take the low road and say retail in a mall situation can’t compete with online shopping or premium golden mile locations. But you have to give customers a reason to come to your business – transform and give the punters what they want.

Become the destination.

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